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The Soft Machine - Third CD (album) cover

THIRD

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

4.21 | 697 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars A double-album with only four tracks, years before Tangerine Dream and Yes did the same thing. This is the last Softs album featuring vocals(unless you count "Over 'n Above" on Land Of Cockayne). The sound here is pretty awful, so badly recorded that this is a prime example of "you can't polish a turd". Even Vol. 2 and Fourth sound much better. Oh well, a shame because this album has some of the best music the Machine ever made. Ratledge, Wyatt and Hopper are here joined by guest musicians; the only one who will stay for the next album is saxophonist Elton Dean. I don't know if he is *officially* a member here, but he was until Karl Jenkins joined.

"Slightly All The Time" is the most trad jazz thing here and my least favourite. This track is not far removed from what Miles Davis was doing at the same time, only Davis was doing it better. "Facelift" was mostly recorded live but still sounds as bad as the studio stuff. There is a part here which sounds similar to a section in "21st Century Schizoid Man" but I doubt it's deliberate plagiarism. Lots of distorted organ and fuzz-bass here. Dean's avant-jazz leanings are most noticeable on this song. If this was a single album with just the second record, I would be tempted to give this 5 stars. "Moon In June" and "Out-Bloody-Rageous" are two of the best things Softs ever did.

"Moon In June" is a Wyatt piece where he sings and plays most of the instruments himself. Hopper and Ratledge came in near the end and you can hear a violin that gets sped-up and slowed down for the remainder of the track. Trippy! The first half of "Moon" is just drums, vocals, organ and electric piano. This sounds very different to anything Wyatt did on his first solo album the same year, End Of An Ear(ha!). That album also *sounds* better than Third. "Out-Bloody-Rageous" is also different to the first two songs. Beginning with a Terry Riley-inspired backwards electric piano loop, it then goes into a jazz-rock section before calming down with some nice piano. The backwards loops came back later. Superb.

The jazz influences start to show up on Vol. 2, get expanded on here, but it is the next two albums were they go flow blown avant-jazz-rock. This is one of Soft Machine's best albums and a good place to start for the more jazz-inclined. I think Vol. 2 is a better place to start with Softs for most and a great introduction to the Canterbury scene in general. Because of the sound/production and "Slightly" I can't give this more than 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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